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Corporate Wikis: The Effects of Owners' Motivation and Behavior on Group Members'
EngagementOfEr ArAzy AND IAN r. GEllAtlyOfer ArAzy is an associate professor in the
Alberta School of Business at the Uni- versity of Alberta. He holds a Ph.D. in
information systems from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a B.Sc.
and an MBA from the technion, Israel. His industry experience includes positions as
project manager and operations manager. His research interests are in the areas of
computer-supported cooperative work and knowledge management. His work has appeared
in MIS Quarterly, Journal of Man- agement Information Systems, Journal of the
Association for Information Systems, Journal of the American Society for
Information Science and Technology, and ACM Transactions on Management Information
Systems, among others.IAn r. GellAtly is a professor in the Alberta School of
Business at the University of Alberta. He received his Ph.D. in industrial and
organizational psychology from the University of Western Ontario. His primary
research examines the "person" and "situation" factors that drive job performance,
citizenship behavior, attendance pat- terns, and turnover decisions. Dr. Gellatly
has published in outlets such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational
Research Methods, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Vocational
Behavior, Human Performance, and Human Resource Management.AbstrAct: Originally
designed as a tool to alleviate bottlenecks associated with knowledge management,
the suitability of wikis for corporate settings has been questioned given the
inherent tensions between wiki affordances and the realities of organizational
life. Drawing on regulatory focus theory and social cognitive theory, we developed
and tested a model of the motivational dynamics underlying corporate wikis. We
examined leaders (owners) and users of 187 wiki-based projects within a large
multinational firm. Our findings revealed two countervailing motivational forces,
one oriented toward accomplishment and achievement (promotion focus) and one
oriented toward safety and security (prevention focus), that not only predicted
owners' participation but also the overall level of engagement within the wiki
groups. Our primary contribution is in showing that, notwithstanding the potential
benefits to users, wikis can trigger risk-avoidance motives that potentially impede
engagement. Practically, our findings call for an alignment between organizational
procedures sur- rounding wiki deployment and the technology's affordances.Key wOrds
And phrAses: knowledge management (KM), knowledge management systems (KMS),
knowledge sharing, motivation, owner, regulatory focus theory, social cognitive
theory, wiki.Journal of Management Information Systems / Winter 2012-13, Vol. 29,
No. 3, pp. 87-116. (C) 2013 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved. Permissions:
www.copyright.com ISSN 0742-1222 (print) / ISSN 1557-928X (online) DOI:
10.2753/MIS0742-122229030388 ArAzy AND GEllAtly?In the InfOrmAtIOn AGe, cOmpAnIes
IncreAsInGly derIve vAlue from intellectual rather than physical assets, and
employee knowledge is believed to be a company's most profitable resource.
Knowledge management (KM) refers to identifying and leveraging the collective
knowledge in an organization to help the organization compete [3], and knowledge
management systems (KMS) are designed to allow firms to manage their knowledge
resources. Initially, KM approaches focused on knowledge as objects that could be
organized to support decision making, and KMS were seen as tools to manage codified
knowledge, such that most KM projects were initiated top-down and driven by
management. However, the rigid structure of such centrally controlled KM
initiatives often exhibited poor incentives to the sharing and reuse of knowledge
[8, 48, 69, 71]. Co-creation and peer-based production over the Internet, as
exemplified by open source software development [28] and later Wikipedia [5, 63],
has offered an alternative model of KM that emphasized principles such as open
access and community governance [68, 79]. Beginning in the mid-1990s, with the
growing emphasis on knowledge work- ers and tacit knowledge, organizations began to
explore this form of "open KM" [8, 48, 76]. rather than centralized control of KM
initiatives and the codification of all organizational knowledge, firms
increasingly recognize that distributed collaboration is a more effective way of
sharing knowledge. In open KM, conversations are seen as central, as the process of
expressing knowledge aids its creation and information exchanges help refine
knowledge [41]. "Conversational KM" [69, 70] is an approach that emphasizes the
sharing of tacit knowledge through ongoing exchanges within work groups.
Conversational KMS, such as discussion forums, instant messaging, Weblogs,
podcasts, and wikis, are collaborative in nature and assist in the creation and
sharing of knowledge through conversations [5, 27, 69].A wiki (when used within
organizational settings) is a conversational KMS [69] designed for open KM [4, 46,
76]. It is a Web-based application that allows users to collectively author
documents, such that the most recent version reflects the cumula- tive
contributions of all the authors [42]. Although wikis have the potential to allevi-
ate the knowledge acquisition bottlenecks associated with traditional KMS [70], for
wikis to succeed it is essential that users share their knowledge and participate
in the collaborative authoring process. It follows, then, that we need to
understand the motivational dynamics that drive user participation within
conversational KM, and particularly within the context of wikis. Although there is
much to be learned from open source software development and Wikipedia [5, 48],
corporate settings introduce constraints that pose challenges for adopting
Internet-based procedures [4, 77]. for example, firms may restrict wiki access
privileges, and corporate users of KMS may be more concerned about career
advancement and more likely to hoard knowledge. thus, it is not clear the extent to
which theoretical models of knowledge sharing over the Internet [5, 55, 63, 68] are
applicable to open KM [44, 46].to date, a number of studies have looked at the
motivational processes that underlie user participation within traditional
(nonopen) organizational knowledge-sharing processes [11, 36, 59, 66]. Naturally,
the questions that drive research in this area have revolved around the various
conditions that elicit knowledge sharing within and between groups. However, an
implicit assumption that runs through this work isthat knowledge-sharing activities
are inherently benign. It has been suggested that KMS [33, 73], and particularly
wikis [44], could inadvertently introduce risks and that would negatively affect
engagement. In this paper, we follows up on these prior works and argue that within
open KM in corporate settings, knowledge sharing can be "dangerous," in the sense
that it potentially exposes deficiencies and differences with respect to a user's
abilities, knowledge, and experience, which in turn might affect reputation and
status within the group. Prior studies that have neglected these adverse realities
leave us with motivational explanations that might tell us only half the story.the
objective of the present research is to develop an integrative theoretical frame-
work that explains the motivational dynamics within the organizational wiki-based
open KM context, which incorporates the notions of regulatory focus and social
learning. By adapting regulatory focus theory [29] and social cognitive theory [9]
to this particular problem domain, we are able to model the tension between two co-
existing regula- tory (motivational) states within the wiki leader (or "owner")--
one that is oriented toward satisfying nurturance needs and concerned with growth,
accomplishment, and advancement, and one that is oriented toward satisfying
security needs and focused on personal safety, and meeting obligations and
responsibilities. We then examine the implications of these motivational states on
wiki owners' behavior and for group engagement. Specifically, we wanted to model
how the motivations of prominent individuals within the wikis affect others, both
directly (i.e., signaling) and indirectly (i.e., affecting owners' actions, which
in turn influence group members' actions). Our work contributes to the
understanding of the behavioral processes underlying wiki work and more broadly to
the understanding of how leaders influence groups' knowl- edge work. If we are able
to show that these countervailing motivational forces affect individual and group
engagement differently, then our work will confirm that open KMS designed to foster
collaboration and knowledge sharing may, in some contexts, impede rather than
facilitate engagement in information technology (It)-mediated KM initiatives.Before
proceeding, it is important to clarify the role of "leader" within the corporate
wiki context. It is well known that e-leaders play a critical role in managing
knowledge work and in driving the adoption of KMS. E-leadership has been described
as a social influence process mediated by It with the power to produce attitude and
behavior change within individuals or groups [7]. In virtual knowledge networks,
leadership is often emergent, rapidly shifting from one person to another depending
on who has the knowledge advantage for a given task [34]. Wiki owners have
responsibilities for both social management and technical administration [12],
playing a central role in encouraging the engagement of others [52]. thus, owners
fit our understanding of e-leaders. Our model focuses on the motivational tensions
within wiki owners, and the social mechanisms by which these e-leaders affect the
engagement of wiki group members.1the
paper proceeds as follows. the next section reviews relevant work on KM, corporate
wikis, and wiki owners. We then proceed to describe the broader theoretical context
and develop the study's hypotheses. Next, we continue to describe the research
COrPOrAtE WIKIS 8990 ArAzy AND GEllAtlymethod and then present the results of our
empirical evaluation. finally, we discuss the implications of our findings and
review its limitations.Corporate Wikis and their OwnersWiki-Based Knowledge
ManagementwIKI, derIved frOm the hAwAIIAn wOrd fOr "fAst," is a collaborative
authoring tool that allows users to overwrite others' contributions. In addition to
supporting conver- sations, wikis help to explicate tacit knowledge and create
knowledge bases [4, 38]. the primary affordances of wikis are open access,
transparency, automatic release of changes, and peer-based governance [42, 69, 70];
thus, wikis naturally lend them- selves to open KM [44, 46, 71, 76, 77]. A wiki is
a highly flexible technology, and wikis have been used for a variety of KM
applications, including personal information management, document repositories,
collaboration and project management, maps of experts and organizational knowledge,
idea generation, and e-learning [4, 30, 45, 69]. to date, most research on wikis
has focused on their use in the public sphere, and specifically on Wikipedia [5,
50]; however, our interest is in corporate wikis. there seems to be an inherent
tension between wiki affordances and traditional corporate KM practices [6, 25,
77]. While the wiki system used in both Internet and corporate settings may be
similar, wiki-based conversational KM practices may differ substan- tially from
Internet systems such as Wikipedia. for example, over the Internet, wiki editing is
open ended, whereas a corporation may put restriction on access privileges, provide
template formats, or calculate users' relative contributions to be used in per-
formance evaluation [6, 76].Wiki Ownersthe term "owner" is commonly used in the
context of peer production communities to describe a specific type of leader [48].
fundamentally, the role of an owner within a wiki context is informal and emergent,
potentially available to any user. that said, owners often assume the
responsibility for a variety of technology infrastructure and social management
tasks [12]. On the technology side, owners' responsibilities may involve installing
and setting up the wiki, system configuration, and establishing access privileges.
On the social management side, wiki owners will often assume responsibility to
control detrimental activity (e.g., managing disputes, channelling the discussions,
and chastising inappropriate behavior) and to encourage appropriate participation
(e.g., by recognizing informative and supportive contributions) [12, 48, 58]. Wiki
owners also tend to be active contributors, synthesizers of others' contributions,
and good communicators [32]. the critical point is that, because of their role(s),
wiki owners are highly visible and characterized by distinctive rights and
responsibilities (e.g., special access privileges, rights to add or remove members,
and the ability to reject members' postings). Within a corporate setting, wiki
owners play similar roles and are pivotal in influencing others and driving
engagement and participation.2?theoretical ContextOur AIm In thIs sectIOn Is tO
develOp A theOretIcAl understAndInG of the motivational forces that drive the
participation of wiki group members. to provide a referent for this discussion, we
focus on the e-leader (i.e., wiki owner) and then provide an expla- nation of how
his or her behavior affects the engagement of other individuals within the wiki. As
mentioned earlier, our theoretical frame integrates aspects of regulatory focus
theory and social cognitive theory, which is expressed as a series of testable
hypotheses.Motivation for Wiki Engagement and regulatory focus theorytheoretical
frameworks on knowledge sharing over the Internet are largely rooted in theories of
volunteering and participation in social movements [51, 53, 55, 63, 68, 79]. Within
organizational settings, the motivational dynamics believed to underlie knowledge-
sharing behavior have been viewed through a number of different theo- retical
lenses, including the traditional model of intrinsic versus extrinsic motiva- tion
[16, 78], the theory of reasoned action [11], social exchange theory [36, 73, 76],
and organismic integration theory [47]. these studies identified a large number of
reasons why people would be motivated (intend) to share knowledge, including need
satisfaction [16]; attitudes toward knowledge sharing, permissive knowledge-sharing
norms, and organizational climate [11]; contingent rewards, self-set goals or
intentions, self-efficacy, and knowledge-sharing norms [59]; and attitudes and
feelings toward knowledge sharing [47].Most of the theoretical perspectives
employed in earlier studies in both the Internet and organizational contexts have
assumed, either implicitly or explicitly, that knowl- edge sharing is inherently
desirable with the potential to enhance both the individuals involved and the group
to which the individuals belong. Indeed, engagement with wikis and other knowledge-
sharing technology do provide opportunities for personal growth, achievement, and
in some cases, advancement. What seems missing, however, in most of the
motivational explanations to date is that knowledge-sharing activity, in and of
itself, can incur risk--especially in conversational KMS that are used within
corporate settings [44, 73]. Although the very public nature of wikis offer great
opportunities for collaborative work, wiki work could also expose participants to
risk because users may fear that their contributions will not be appreciated,
reverted, or even attacked [19] and because users may be reluctant to modify what
they perceive to be others' content [44]. thus, we expect wiki members to have
simultaneously conflicting goals: the goal to fully engage and participate freely
and the goal to engage but do so in a cautious and guarded (safe) manner to prevent
negative outcomes.regulatory focus theory is rooted in the basic idea that
virtually all human behav- ior is motivated by two co-existing regulatory systems
that service different survival needs [29, 62], and thus is particularly suitable
for explaining the countervailing moti- vational forces believed to drive wiki
engagement. One system, promotion-oriented regulation, is concerned with satisfying
nurturance needs where the emphasis is onCOrPOrAtE WIKIS 91?92 ArAzy AND GEllAtly
growth, accomplishment, and advancement. Individuals with a promotion focus strive
to achieve personal ideals and are particularly sensitive to the presence and
absence of positive outcomes (e.g., gains) [62]. Prevention-oriented regulation, in
contrast, is concerned with satisfying security needs. Individuals with a
prevention focus are concerned with personal safety and security, and with meeting
one's obligations, duties, and responsibilities [62]. Moreover, individuals with a
prevention focus show particular sensitivity to the presence or absence of negative
outcomes (e.g., losses) [62].3research studies have found that promotion and
prevention regulatory foci are related yet distinct motivational states [72], such
that it is possible for an individual to experience high levels in one focus,
simultaneously in both foci, or in neither focus [29]. Interestingly, there has
been a hint in the literature that corporate wikis have the potential to both
facilitate and forestall user participation. findings from studies on wikis suggest
that people approach knowledge-sharing activities to achieve personal growth and
accomplishment [45]. the distinct wiki affordances and the nature of wiki-mediated
processes allow users substantial discretion in performing their wiki tasks, wikis
provide an opportunity for users to collaborate and learn from each other, and they
provide a form to gain mastery and develop new competencies. We contend, however,
that the very properties of wiki-based work that evoke promotion focus might also
introduce risk, especially in corporate settings where inferences of one's
contributions to the wiki can have serious consequences. In particular, the open,
transparent, and public nature of wikis may increase the salience of safety and
security needs, especially in a corporate environment [33]. Having the quantity and
quality of contributions known could potentially expose performance differences,
which in turn may evoke a strong prevention focus to protect reputation and self-
esteem. Majchrzak, for instance, has observed in users a "tendency not to edit
others' work on a corporate wiki in part because they feel they would be publicly
criticizing the other person, thereby harming the acceptance in the community" [44,
p. 18].Wiki Owner: regulatory focus and EngagementIn this section we consider the
relation between the motivational state of the wiki owner and his or her behavior.
As outlined earlier, regulatory focus can be viewed as a psychological state that
affects the choices people make, the way they think about their goals, the
strategies they use to achieve desired states, and how they evaluate and respond to
outcomes. Moreover, regulatory focus has been linked to information- processing
style, which has important implications for creative thought and innova- tive
behavior [22, 29]. At a deeper level, the differential effects of promotion and
prevention focus might reflect their respective links to the bio-behavioral systems
that drive approach and avoidance behaviors [29, 40, 62]. Drawing on theory and
relevant findings reported in the It literature, we now examine the effects of
promotion and prevention focus, in turn, and propose hypotheses for each.We propose
that promotion
focus will be positively associated with engagement. At a very rudimentary level,
our rationale is supported by research that links promotion- oriented regulation
with the behavioral activation system (BAS) [29, 40, 62]; a bio-behavioral system
that fostering behavioral approach or action toward desired end states [24, 40,
62]. to the extent that an open KMS context evokes a strong promotion focus (and by
implication the BAS), the behavior of users tend to be vigorous, energized, and
excited as they engage in activities that lead to positive outcomes, leading to
higher rather than lower levels of engagement. In addition to overall activation
levels, we can understand the relation between promotion focus and engagement from
an information-processing perspective. Wiki-based knowledge work, whether sharing
ones knowledge, editing others' contributions, or simply reading wiki content,
require intensive information processing. According to friedman and fo?rster [22],
promotion- oriented regulation involves a riskier information-processing style that
results in a higher frequency of creative and innovative behaviors because novel
alternatives are eagerly and actively sought [49]. We surmise, then, that the
information-processing style elicited by a promotion focus should enhance rather
than detract from creative expression [22, 29].there appears to be some evidence in
the literature that is consistent with our predic- tions. In the context of
corporate wikis, it would seem that promotion-focus motives might play an important
role in affecting users' willingness to participate and contribute knowledge.
Majchrzak et al. [45] surveyed wiki users from a variety of organizations and
identified use-value and enhancing the contributor's reputation as salient motiva-
tions. Danis and Singer [15] mention career advancement as a primary driver of wiki
participation. yates et al. [76] found that users who either add content to the
wiki or who synthesize others' postings are driven by the benefits this offers to
their personal work and to organizational processes. thus, based on theory and
several consistent findings reported in the literature, we advance the following
hypothesis:Hypothesis 1: Wiki owners with a strong promotion focus will exhibit
higher personal engagement levels than those with a weak promotion focus.In
contrast, we propose that prevention focus will be negatively associated with
engagement. Again, our rationale is supported by research that links prevention-
oriented regulation with the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) [29, 40, 62]. the
BIS promotes survival by fostering avoidance-related behaviors when the individual
encounters potentially threatening or aversive conditions that evoke feelings of
fear and anxiety [24, 40, 62]. to the extent that an open KMS context evokes a
strong preven- tion focus (and by implication the BIS), users should be sensitive
to aversive stimuli and motivated to inhibit their behavior to minimize or avoid
negative outcomes. It is reasonable, in these situations, to expect that the
behavior of wiki owners and users will be measured and guarded, leading to lower
rather than higher engagement levels. In addition to its relation to the BIS,
prevention-oriented regulation has implications for information-processing style.
It has been suggested that prevention focus is associated with a more conservative,
risk-averse, and vigilant processing style that is less open to creativity and
innovation; a style where repetition is favored over novelty and where alternatives
are carefully eliminated rather than explored [22, 29].As alluded to earlier, with
corporate-based wikis, risk is potentially introduced in several ways. first, users
may fear that their contributions will not be accepted, orCOrPOrAtE WIKIS 9394
ArAzy AND GEllAtlywill be reverted, attacked unfairly, exploited, or used against
them [19]. this might occur because wikis allow any group member to see the
complete history of revisions and because content modifications are automatically
published. thus, concerns about errors, and how these will be interpreted by
others, are likely heightened in the wiki context. In addition, on corporate
intranets, wiki users' identities are revealed [6], thus increasing the risks
associated with ineffective performance [33]. Second, the notion of shared
ownership of content might be foreign to many corporate users, who are sometimes
reluctant to modify what they perceive to be others' content, especially for those
users who are more sensitive to peer pressure [77] and in cases when the contri-
butions were made by authoritative figures (whether managers or domain experts)
[15, 25, 30, 44]. It is reasonable to assume that because owners are familiar with
wiki affordances they would feel more comfortable editing others' work; however,
owners may also have the most to lose (e.g., exposing their own incompetence) and
may be especially concerned with the expectations of others. In short, the inherent
personal risks for users should evoke prevention regulatory focus, which in turn
should lead to lower, and more cautious, participation. thus, based on theory and
several consistent findings reported in the literature, we advance the following
hypothesis:Hypothesis 2: Wiki owners with a strong prevention focus will exhibit
lower per- sonal engagement levels than those with a weak prevention focus.the
Effects of Wiki Owners on Group EngagementWe accept, as have others, that "there
are no coherent, integrated, and theoretical frameworks of the motivational factors
that explain how knowledge is transferred between knowledge providers and
recipients" [59, p. 71]. Knowledge sharing represents complex (individual and
social) human behavior that is not likely to be fully explained by any single
theoretical perspective. the direction in the literature seems to be one where
relevant and appropriate concepts and ideas from different motivation theories are
integrated to provide greater explanation or the specific phenomenon under inves-
tigation. Although regulatory focus theory allows us to consider the tensions
between two co-existing regulatory systems, and how these systems are potentially
evoked in an open KMS context, it is not clear how the behavior of a focal
individual (e.g., wiki owner) affects the engagement of other users. to address
this gap in the explanatory logic, we have brought forward concepts drawn from
social cognitive theory, which is rooted in social learning theory [9].According to
social cognitive theory [9], most, if not all, human behavior is deter- mined by a
reciprocal interaction of social (situation) and cognitive (person) deter- minants.
Our capacity to learn through observation and inference enables people to expand
their knowledge and skills capabilities by simply attending to the actual per-
formance of others and the consequences for them. Bandura [9] argues that modeling
has always been one of the most powerful means of transmitting values, attitudes,
and patterns of thought and behavior to others--and that innovation and creative
develop- ment can emerge through the modeling process. Innovative or creative work
involvessynthesizing experiences into novel ways of thinking and doing things.
According to Bandura [9], models shape the behavior of observers in a variety of
ways, including (1) exposing observers to novel patterns of thought or behaviors,
and the "generative rules" that determine when behavior should be initiated and the
strategies for deal- ing with different situations; (2) providing observers with a
social prompt or cue to perform a previously learned behavior; and (3) directing
the attention of observers to particular information, objects, events, or
contingencies.In this study we assert that wiki owners act as models for others in
the wiki group. We base this assertion on the fact that individuals who occupy the
role of wiki owners are unique in the sense that they command the attention of the
group. It is true that all members within a wiki group (i.e., employees who are
actively using the wiki) who perform creative and highly interdependent KM tasks
could potentially influence each other by modeling values, attitudes, thoughts, and
behaviors. However, wiki owners, because of their role within the wiki, are most
likely to be viewed as the primary and salient source of behavioral information, if
for no other reason than the responsibil- ity they have in establishing and
maintaining the wiki. How owners behave, and the inferences others makes about
their motivational state, should matter. Drawing on social cognitive theory, our
model asserts that, despite the fact that owners do not have full control over wiki
content (i.e., their contributions could be overwritten), owners hold the capacity
to influence others by demonstrating values, attitudes, thoughts, and behavior, by
cuing appropriate responses, and by directing effort and attention to salient
contingencies.there is precedent for this view in the literature. first, the
literature on champions of technological innovation [31] describes the role of
champions in driving the adoption of specific new technologies across an
organization. Second, studies exploring the interaction between KM and leadership
discuss the role of the "knowledge leader" in driving KM processes by communicating
a vision, motivating employees, encourag- ing an organizational culture that
promotes teamwork and knowledge sharing, and by providing a set of systems and
structures that support knowledge processes [23, 57]. A third relevant strand of
research, e-leadership, helps explain how leadership emerges even in organic
organizations and in fluid and dynamic work settings. E-leadership has been defined
as a social influence process mediated by advanced It to produce a change in
attitudes, feelings, thinking, behavior, and
performance with individuals, groups, and organizations [7]. It is important to
understand that within an organic wiki context, where membership, roles, and goals
are constantly changing, e-leadership may be associated with one individual (e.g.,
the wiki owner), or it may be shared by several individuals. Moreover, in an
environment where knowledge flow is not restricted to a hierarchical chain of
command and knowledge is openly shared, ownership may rapidly shift from one person
to another depending on who has the knowledge advantage for a given task [34].In
the specific context of wikis, the literature provides little, if any, discussion
of modeling. However, studies from related areas do provide some relevant insights.
A common characteristic of online leaders is that they lead by example and they are
typi- cally the most active contributors [32]. these leaders are often effective
communicators;COrPOrAtE WIKIS 9596 ArAzy AND GEllAtlythey usually enjoy the
challenge and chance to lead others, and in exchange, seek power and prestige [58].
the results from a survey of 284 Internet groups (including both work-related and
non-work groups) demonstrate that salient individuals within these groups, such as
owners, have a substantial influence over group members' par- ticipation levels
[12]. thus, based on theory and reported findings in the literature, we advance the
following hypothesis:Hypothesis 3: The personal engagement of the wiki owners will
exert a positive effect on the engagement of group members.In addition to tracking
the behavior of the owner, wiki group members may also be affected by inferences
regarding the owner's regulatory focus. Drawing on social cognitive theory [9], we
expect that salient individuals within the wiki group, who model a strong promotion
focus through their contributions and related attitudes, thoughts, or acts,
effectively signal to members their desire to achieve an ideal state. the effect of
modeled promotion focus should be to increase in members their level of promotion
self-regulation, and in turn, goal-relevant behavior. We see support for this idea
in the literature. Although studied in a different context, Neubert et al. [49]
demonstrated that the level of promotion and prevention focus experienced by
employees, and the resulting behaviors, reflected the employees' inferences regard-
ing the motives of their leader (e.g., employees who perceived their leader to have
a strong promotion focus were more likely to internalize this motive). to the
extent that observers align their motives and behavior with a social referent, then
the level of promotion focus demonstrated by the wiki owner should be reflected in
elevated group engagement [37]. In Internet wikis, community leaders typically use
multiple discourse channels to broadcast themselves and their messages, and they
often make the effort to welcome newcomers and educate them on community norms
[21]. In corporate settings, wiki owners can use additional channels to broadcast
their values and motivation, including face-to-face and through a variety of
organizational com- munication tools. We thus hypothesize:Hypothesis 4: An owner's
promotion focus will be positively related to his or her group members' engagement.
An implication of regulatory focus theory is that individuals who have a strong
prevention focus are sensitive and responsive to external contingencies, such as
social pressures, obligations, and responsibilities [1]. Again, in a general sense,
a trade-off with prevention focus is that prudent and "safe" responses can lead to
lower overall engagement in a wiki context--perhaps greater accuracy in what is
actually produced, but less in the way of riskier or innovative contributions
(e.g., [22]). Salient individu- als within the wiki who demonstrate or model risk-
averse values, attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors should increase observers'
likelihood of more careful and guarded responding. So, rather than optimal
performance, group members are cued by the owner to maintain (and guard) the status
quo by fulfilling their basic transactional responsibilities and obligations [37].
for these reasons, wiki owners who modelprevention self-regulation, all else being
equal, should decrease rather than increase group members' engagement (see [49]):
Hypothesis 5: An owner's prevention focus will be negatively related to his or her
group members' engagement.the Proposed ModelOur proposed model includes a set of
five hypotheses. first, causal paths were specified between the owner's regulatory
foci and his or her engagement (H1 and H2). Second, H3 reflected the causal path
between the owner's engagement and the group members' engagement. finally, causal
paths were specified between the owner's regulatory foci and group members'
engagement (H4 and H5).Methodthe methOdOlOGy used In Our study InvOlved a Web
survey and an archival analy- sis of wiki usage logs. Before describing our
measures and procedures, it would be helpful to provide some important contextual
information with respect to the host organization.the Organizational ContextIBM
Corporation is a global organization with over 350,000 employees that designs
hardware, develops software, and engages in professional services. this corporation
was a particularly appropriate research site given that IBM has a very large and
grow- ing group of wiki users. Wikis are managed as a "wiki farm," where
administration is central and each employee can instantaneously create his or her
own wiki. An internal analysis conducted by IBM revealed that the two most popular
applications of wikis are as a document management system and as a collaboration
tool. When the wiki serves an IBM project group, access is commonly restricted to
those employees working on the specific project, and when the wiki serves a
community of practice, the wiki is open to all employees interested in the topic.
At IBM, anonymous postings are not possible, and each wiki edit is associated with
a specific employee.As outlined previously, we focused our analysis on wiki owners.
Similar to other settings, the term "owner" is used at IBM to refer to the
individual who takes charge of the wiki and drives participation. there are four
primary mechanisms by which IBM wiki owners influence group members' engagement.
first, they act as role models and lead by example; they contribute content to the
wiki, integrate the groups' various postings, and play an important role in the
administration tasks. Second, owners play an active role in driving wiki adoption
within their groups, relying on the wiki and other communication tools to
correspond with others. In the cases where the owner is a manager, he or she may
dictate that the wiki is used for the specific project and mayCOrPOrAtE WIKIS 97?98
ArAzy AND GEllAtlyassign employees to specific wiki tasks. third, by nature of
their technical responsi- bilities, owners can set access privileges, restricting
participation to a selected group. lastly, owners are often responsible for
determining the overall look and feel of the wiki (e.g., by selecting templates
that determine how information is presented), and usability is an important factor
in driving adoption.Sample, Design, and ProcedureData were collected from two
primary sources. With the exception of the group mem- bers' engagement measure that
was estimated based on wiki usage logs, all of our measures were assessed using a
Web survey of wiki owners. At the time of our study, IBM ran roughly 13,000
distinct wiki applications. An announcement regarding the survey appeared in the
homepage of IBM wikis that all active wiki owners could have seen, but the exact
number of people who read the announcement is not known. this mass announcement
would be similar to an advertisement in an industry magazine inviting survey
participation. Our Web survey was administered internally and was open for eight
weeks, and participants self-identified themselves as owners. Although an "owner"
is not a formal position within IBM and it is possible that in a fluid and dynamic
wiki context the ownership role may change hands over time, the fact that owners
hold special access privileges within the wiki system entails that there is no
ambiguity regarding who serves in the owner role;4 and at the time our survey was
conducted wiki owners had no problem identifying themselves as such. to address
concern for nonresponse bias, we compared early versus late respondents of the
survey, and found no significant differences.In order to measure group members'
engagement, we extracted wiki usage data for the three months after the Web survey
was closed for all the active wikis within four organizational units: Global
Business Services, Information technology Services, Sales and Distribution, and the
Software Group.5 In total, our respondent sample consisted of 187 wiki projects for
which we had both survey data and system usage logs. Each of these wiki projects
had a unique wiki owner. In addition to the survey and system logs, our knowledge
of the IBM wiki context was also informed by ongoing conversations (face-to-face,
phone, e-mail) with IBM's central wiki administration unit.Our intention in this
study was not to focus on a specific wiki usage but rather to try and capture the
breadth of wiki usage at IBM, and the wikis in our sample represent a broad
spectrum of wiki applications in terms of the business unit (as described above),
organizational functions (including engineers, project managers, marketing
personnel and salespeople, It specialists, and consultants), group size (from a
handful of group members to wikis with over 60 active contributors), and overall
group activity (from dormant wikis to those with hundreds of edits per month).Study
MeasuresOwners provided data on their regulatory focus and wiki engagement.
Measures (indi-
cators) of these concepts were developed for this study based on definitions from
theliterature and on input from subject-matter experts at IBM. the subjects rated
each item on a five-point likert scale. See table 1 for a complete listing of the
survey items.two contextualized items were used to sample the concept domain of
promotion focus: "My participation in the wiki is very relevant to my personal
goals" and "Wiki participation has benefited me in my job." Both of these items
reflect a motivational state characterized by a concern for growth, advancement,
and accomplishment [29]. likewise, two contextualized items were used to sample the
concept of prevention focus: "When I use the wiki, I'm aware that I might let
others down if I don't perform well" and "When using the wiki, I'm very aware of
the consequences of not perform- ing effectively." Both items reflect a
motivational state where attention, effort, and goal-directed activity is directed
toward meeting one's contractual responsibilities and duties, meeting other's
expectations, and complying with external reward contingen- cies [29]. to our
knowledge, a consensus has yet to emerge concerning the measure- ment of
situationally induced regulatory focus. However, the nature of the items used to
assess both regulatory foci in this study mirror what has typically been reported
in the literature (e.g., [43, 49, 72]). finally, owner's engagement was measured in
line with prior studies in a similar context [28, 63], and we employed two self-
reported items regarding the weekly amount of time the owners spent reading and
contributing content to the wiki.to assess the degree of group member engagement,
we collected data from usage logs provided by IBM. We employed four metrics of wiki
usage: the number of (1) "edits," (2) unique visitors, (3) and Web page "hits," as
well as (4) the amount of content downloaded (i.e., bandwidth). While the first
metric captures active par- ticipation (i.e., changing the wiki contents), the
latter three metrics capture overall participation--both active and passive (i.e.,
reading wiki contents). together, these metrics represent a comprehensive picture
of wiki users' engagement. Our interest here is in the engagement of the average
group member, thus we divided wiki usage metrics by the number of group members.
this measure controls for the size of the wiki group, which is essential given that
larger groups are expected to collectively generate more activity. We used the
metrics' average over the three-month period as our indicator, and members'
engagement was modeled as a reflective variable of the four metrics (number of
edits, visitors, page hits, and bandwidth). Because of the power distribution of
the data, the usage metrics were natural log-transformed.Control Variablesto
control for exogenous effects in our model, we included four control variables:
owner's job scope perceptions, perceived ease of use, wiki maturity, and the number
of active contributors. first, by measuring owner's perceptions of the wiki job, we
control for differences in wiki applications. to control for the psychological
properties of different wikis, we assessed perceptions of skill variety, task
identity, task signifi- cance, autonomy, and feedback [26]. for each owner, a
motivating potential score was computed by following the recommendations of Hackman
and Oldham [26] (i.e., averaging the first three, then multiplying that score by
the autonomy and feedbackCOrPOrAtE WIKIS 99?100ArAzy AND GEllAtly?????table 1. Item
Details and Descriptive StatisticsConstruct legend Item MeanStandard deviation
Promotion focus regulation Prevention focus regulationProm1 My participation in the
wiki is very relevant to my personal goals.Prom2 Wiki participation has benefited
me in my job.Prev1 When I use the wiki, I'm aware that I might let others down if I
don't perform well. Prev2 When using the wiki, I'm very aware of the consequences
of not performing4.35 0.76 4.30 0.72 3.82 1.02 3.55 1.08Owner's engagement
effectively.OE1 What is the weekly amount of time you regularly spend contributing
content to the2.24 1.11Members' engagementpreviously mentioned? (in hours [<1, 1-3,
4-6, 7-9, >10]) ME1 Average number of monthly edits.11.87 12.81Perceived ease of
useME2 Average number of monthly Web site visits.ME3 Average number of monthly Web
page hits.ME4 Average number of monthly Web site bandwidth (megabytes)EOU1 The wiki
is easy to use.EOU2 How satisfied are you with the wiki's overall ease of use?MPS1
[Skill variety] The wiki requires me to use a number of complex or high-level
skills. MPS2 [Task identity] The wiki gives me a sense that I am performing a whole
piece of79.96 135.66 117.65 189.19 3.41 6.83 4.13 0.87 3.97 0.99 53.11 27.78
Motivating potential score (MPS); an indexMPS = autonomy * feedback * average
(skill variety, task identity, task significance)work from start to finish.MPS3
[Task significance] A lot of people are affected by the quality of my wiki
contribution. MPS4 [Autonomy] I have considerable opportunity for independence and
freedom in how IWiki maturity Active contributorsdo my wiki work.MPS5 [Feedback] I
regularly get feedback about my wiki contributions. WM Number of months since wiki
inception.AC Number of distinct editors per month.7.91 4.60 5.18 9.11wiki? (in
hours [<1, 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, >10])OE2 What is the weekly amount of time you regularly
spend reading the wiki you2.02 1.06Note: Statistics for items ME1-ME4 were prior to
log transformation.scores). Second, ease of use has been shown to affect technology
adoption decision in a variety of settings [67], suggesting that ease of use is an
important factor in wiki adoption. We thus included ease of use as a control
variable. third, since users are more engaged in certain phases of the project life
cycle than in others, we controlled for wiki maturity, measured through the number
of months since the wiki was instanti- ated. lastly, we controlled for the number
of active contributors, since it is possible that in order for wikis to grab
traction, a number of users must first become active, and thus it is possible that
wikis with a low number of members would yield relatively low engagement levels. We
included paths from the four control variables to both dependent variables (owner's
engagement and members' engagement).resultsdescrIptIve stAtIstIcs Are repOrted In
tAble 1. As can be seen from the table, own- ers' average promotion focus was high
(4.3-5), while prevention focus was moderate (3.6-3.8), and their engagement
averaged at roughly two hours per week of contribut- ing content and two hours of
reading. Group members' activity levels averaged at 12 edits and 80 site visits per
month.Proposed Measurement Model: Convergent and Discriminant Validitythe
convergent validity of our measurement model was assessed in several ways. first,
we examined several competing measurement models to see if they provided a better
explanation for our data. this is particularly relevant for the set of self-
reported measures, where the possibility of common method variance introduces an
alternate measurement model [56]. Confirmatory factor analyses were then performed
using lISrEl 8.80 [35]. We compared three different measurement models: (1) the
null model (all indicator variables are independent), (2) a one-factor model (all
indicator variables load on a single factor), and (3) a five-factor model: two
indicators of promo- tion focus, two indicators of prevention focus, two indicators
of owners' behavior, two indicators of ease of use, and a single indicator of job
scope. Of the three measurement models tested, the proposed five-factor model
provided the best explanation for the observed variance and covariance among the
set of self-reported indicator variables: null model (?2 = 505.94, df [degrees of
freedom] = 36), one-factor model (?2 = 193.43, df = 27, rMSEA [root mean square
error of approximation] = 0.182, CfI [compara- tive fit index] = 0.615), and five-
factor model (?2 = 33.99, df = 18, rMSEA = 0.069, CfI = 0.966),6 thus suggesting
that the risk of common method bias is low.In addition, we employed a partial least
squares (PlS) path-modeling algorithm [2] to assess the reliability of our measures
(as well as the structural model, as reported below). the PlS algorithm estimates
path models using composite variables, some- times called "latent variables," from
a number of indicator items, sometimes referred to as "manifest variables." In this
respect, the variance-based PlS path modeling isCOrPOrAtE WIKIS 101?102 ArAzy AND
GEllAtlysimilar to covariance-based structural equation modeling (SEM), such as
lISrEl [35], because both algorithms estimate complex relations between several
latent variables simultaneously. Nevertheless, a number of conceptual and formal
differences make PlS path modeling especially suited for this study. Although both
PlS and SEM may suffer when the sample size is very small and when data is not
normally distributed [60], the PlS algorithm performs better in these conditions
and is more robust when assumptions of normality are violated [13]. this was an
important consideration for choosing to use PlS in our study, given that some of
the variables are not normally distributed.Using PlS, an index of internal
consistency was computed for each multi-item scale (refer to table 2 for details).
Composite reliability values of 0.78, 0.86, 0.90, 0.97, and 0.86 were found for
promotion focus, prevention focus, owner's engage- ment, members' engagement, and
the control variable ease of use, respectively. In addition, we analyzed the
individual loadings of an item on its corresponding underlying factor, as well as
by the average variance extracted (AVE). All the item loadings on their relevant
construct were greater than 0.70, with the exception
of one promotion-focus item (loading was 0.61). the AVE for each construct was
greater than the suggested minimum of 0.50 [20] (0.65, 0.75, 0.82, 0.90, and 0.75,
for pro- motion focus, prevention focus, owner's engagement, members' engagement,
and ease of use, respectively). taken as a whole, the evidence supports the
convergent validity of the proposed measurement model. See table 2 for details of
composite reliability and AVE and table 3 for item loadings.We assessed
discriminant validity by comparing the square root of the AVE of a particular
construct (presented in table 2 on the diagonal, in boldface) and the correla- tion
between that construct and other latent constructs (presented by the off-diagonal
position). We found that the constructs' square root of the AVE ranges from 0.80 to
0.95, while correlations between constructs did not exceed the recommended
threshold of 0.5. Moreover, the square root of the AVE for every construct is
substantially higher than the correlation between that construct and all the other
constructs. In addition, in all of the cases, items loaded on their relevant
construct substantially higher than any cross-loadings. Having established reliable
and valid measures, we tested the study hypotheses by assessing the extent to which
the proposed model fit the observed pat- tern of variance and covariance among the
study's measures.Hypothesis testing: Assessing the fit of the Structural Modelthe
specified paths in the structural model corresponded to the hypothesized relation-
ships. the significance of structural path estimates was computed using the
bootstrap- ping resampling method with 800 resamples. the structural model was
evaluated on the basis of the statistical significance of structural paths and the
R2 for each composite latent variable. figure 1 shows the results.the resultant
model in figure 1 explains 18 percent of the variance of owner's engagement7 and 32
percent of the variance for members' engagement. the results of the PlS analysis
provide support for all of the proposed hypotheses, confirming that regulatory
focus motivations yield two countervailing effects on wiki engagement?COrPOrAtE
WIKIS103??????????????table 2. Square root of the Average Variance Extracted and
CorrelationBetween the latent ConstructsOE ME EOU MPSConstructs AVECr Prom PrevWM
ACPromotion focus (Prom) Prevention focus (Prev) Owner's engagement (OE) Members'
engagement (ME) [Control] Ease of use (EOU) [Control] Motivating potential0.65 0.75
0.82 0.90 0.75 1.000.78 0.800.86 0.30 0.86score (MPS) index [Control] Wiki maturity
(WM) [Control] Number of active1.00 1.001.00 0.05 1.00 0.20-0.11 -0.15 0.24 0.05
-0.08 1.000.90 0.30 0.97 0.33 0.86 0.31 1.00 0.440.10 0.91-0.02 0.27 0.950.20 0.10
0.19 0.870.40 0.30 0.24 0.29 1.000.26 1.00 Notes: AVE = average variance extracted;
Cr = composite reliability. the square root of the average variance extracted is
shown on the diagonal in boldface.contributors (AC)0.02 0.20 0.42 0.12 0.12?104
ArAzy AND GEllAtly????????????table 3. Item loadingsOwner Ownerpromotion prevention
Owner's MembersMotivating Ease of potentialNumber Wiki of activeItem focus focus
engagement engagementuse scorematurity contributorsProm1 0.61 0.29 0.13 0.10Prom2
0.96 0.26 0.31 0.36Prev1 0.27 0.81 0.07 -0.01Prev2 0.27 0.92 0.10 -0.02OE1 0.25
0.09 0.90 0.20OE2 0.30 0.10 0.91 0.30ME1 0.31 -0.05 0.24 0.98ME2 0.30 -0.05 0.24
0.99ME3 0.30 -0.06 0.23 0.98ME4 0.37 0.10 0.35 0.85EOU1 0.32 0.18 0.13 0.21EOU2
0.18 0.22 0.00 0.09MPS 0.44 0.40 0.30 0.24 WM 0.05 -0.11 -0.15 0.24 AC 0.20 0.02
0.20 0.420.17 0.34 0.31 0.40 0.07 0.33 0.25 0.36-0.05 0.03 0.07 0.22 -0.10 -0.01
-0.10 0.04 -0.21 0.14 -0.07 0.21 0.26 0.42 0.27 0.41 0.29 0.41 0.09 0.37 0.02 0.12
0.12 0.07 -0.08 0.12 1.00 0.26 0.26 1.00Note: loadings on relevant constructs are
in boldface.-0.01 0.28 0.19 0.27 0.16 0.24 0.16 0.22 0.17 0.22 0.25 0.26 0.97 0.31
0.74 0.15 0.29 1.00 0.05 -0.08 0.12 0.12Figure 1. results of PlS AnalysisNotes:
Values on the arrows represent effect size and direction; R 2 values show the
varianceexplained for the construct. * p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p < 0.001; n.s. =
not significant.levels: promotion focus affects engagement (for both owner and
members) positively, whereas prevention focus exerts a negative effect on
engagement (for both owner and members). the outcome variable, members' engagement,
was affected significantly by owner's engagement (H3: effect = 0.16, p < 0.001), as
well as by both motives: a positive effect by promotion focus (H4: effect = 0.19, p
< 0.001) and a negative effect by prevention focus (H5: effect = -0.14, p < 0.001).
Owner's engagement was similarly significantly affected by both motives: a positive
effect by promotion focus (H1: effect = 0.22, p < 0.001) and a negative effect by
prevention focus (H2: effect = -0.06, p < 0.05). the control variables have
contributed substantially to explain- ing the variance in the outcome variable,
increasing R2 from 17 percent to 32 percent. three of these controls--motivating
potential score, wiki maturity, and the number of contributors--exerted significant
effects on both owner's and members' engagement (all the effects were positive,
with the exception for the effect of wiki maturity on members' activity), while the
effects of "perceived ease of use" were significant only on members' engagement.
DiscussionA wIKI Is A cOnversAtIOnAl Kms that has the potential to alleviate the
bottlenecks associated with traditional KMS [46, 70]. In addition to being
conversational, wikis allow users to explicate knowledge and create document
repositories, where codify- ing knowledge from other conversational KMS (e.g.,
discussion forums) would have been extremely difficult and costly [4, 27]. Users'
willingness to share information is paramount to the success of wiki-enabled KM
projects. While people voluntarily shareCOrPOrAtE WIKIS 105??106 ArAzy AND GEllAtly
information online, organizations often fail to stimulate the sharing of knowledge
and convince employees to contribute knowledge to KMS, even when monetary incen-
tives are used [74]. Without a more comprehensive understanding of the underlying
motivational processes that drive individual and group knowledge-sharing behavior,
it would be difficult to explain engagement in wiki-enabled KM [44]. Moreover, we
recognize that e-leaders, such as wiki owners, are influential characters within
this context, yet little is known about how owners influence the engagement of
other wiki group members.the need for a more complete explanation of how e-leaders
(and particularly, wiki owners) shape the knowledge-sharing process and user
participation required us to draw upon two prominent psychological theories of
motivation: regulatory focus theory [29] and social cognitive theory [9]. Our
approach was necessary because "there are no coherent, integrated, and theoretical
frameworks of the motivational factors that explain how knowledge is transferred
between knowledge providers and recipi- ents" [59, p. 71]. Consistent with the
"middle range" approach to theory development (see [39]), we integrate the concepts
of regulatory focus theory and social cognitive theory to offer a more complete
explanation of how e-leaders (and particularly, wiki owners) shape the group's
knowledge-sharing processes. Overall, the pattern of findings provided empirical
support for our model, and our study explains how wiki owners' orientation affects
others, both directly (i.e., signaling) and indirectly (i.e., directing owner's
actions, which in turn affect group members' behavior). We now review the major
findings and discuss their implications for theory and practice.Our findings
confirmed the predictions of regulatory focus theory [29] that the motivation
experienced by wiki owners reflected a resolution of two distinct self- regulating
motives--one directed toward growth and achievement (promotion focus) and one
directed toward personal safety, loss prevention, and security (prevention focus).
As predicted from regulatory focus theory [29], the level of promotion- and
prevention-focused regulation experienced by owners were found to exert a positive
and negative effect, respectively, on the owners' own behavior (wiki engagement).
this finding is in line with the results from a study in the context of self-
service technolo- gies [75]. Moreover, our findings are also consistent with the
predictions of social cognitive theory [9], inasmuch as members of a wiki group
attend to and model the values, attitudes, orientations, and behaviors of wiki
owners. this result confirms the essential role of owners in evoking participation
and engagement within wikis. Other members of the wiki group interpret the owner's
engagement, as well as inferences about underlying motives, as social cues that
shape their own behavior.We observed that the same wiki-based KM context that
evokes a promotion-focused motive concurrently evokes a degree of prevention-
oriented regulation. this is interesting, and counterintuitive, because it shows
that open KMS (and particularly, wiki-based systems), which are intended to foster
collaboration and knowledge shar- ing, might inadvertently bring about a
motivational state that inhibits engagement in It-mediated KM initiative. Even wiki
owners, who are likely strong advocates of the technology itself, were found to be
sensitive to the negative outcomes associated with wiki-mediated task experiences,
at least in the context of our study. We argued thatwikis' openness and
transparency would produce a cautious, more guarded, response among owners, and
hypothesized that this prevention orientation would result in lower engagement
levels. thus H2 was supported.to date, the literature on wikis has emphasized the
positive aspects of the technol- ogy [4, 69, 70, 71]. recent evidence,
however, suggests that wiki affordances may give rise to risk-avoiding behavior
[33, 44]. for example, interviews of corporate wiki users [15, 30] revealed
concerns that sharing of information would later be used against the contributor as
well as unease in making information accessible to the rest of the cor- poration
when the information was not "finished"; in addition, the interviews revealed that
wiki users were reluctant to change what they perceived to be "someone else's
content" and often they would provide feedback to the contributor outside the wiki.
Our integrative model provides a lens to understand this evidence and shed light on
how the experiences associated with wiki work can lead to risk avoidance and impede
engagement, especially in a corporate setting where perceptions of competence can
significantly affect one's career. this finding makes a contribution beyond the
inves- tigation of corporate wikis to the broader study of motivation for KM. While
a range of promotion-focus motives have been shown to affect knowledge sharing in
organi- zational and Internet settings [11, 36, 50, 51, 63, 73, 74], the concerns
and personal risks inhibiting sharing within KMS help to complete the story. Our
findings regarding the effects of prevention-focus orientation are thus of
particular significance.It would seem, however, that engagement within the wiki
group is not just affected by members' first-hand experiences of wiki-mediated work
and the resulting motivational states (as was found for owners in our study) but is
also affected by the key individuals within the wiki group. Based on theory and the
pattern of effects in our study, evidently the wiki owners in our context served as
behavioral models. this finding confirms the notion that innovation and creative
development can emerge through the modeling of values, attitudes, and patterns of
thought and behavior to others [9]. One explanation for this effect is that group
members, especially in dynamic, uncertain, and highly interactive contexts, will
rely on mutual adjustment to coordinate their activities. In these situations, all
eyes will be on each other and on significant individuals for cues that signal what
to do. We see that the stronger the owner's orientation toward personal growth and
achievement, the more likely it was that group members became engaged in the
knowledge-creation process. Interestingly, we also saw that the stronger the
owner's orientation toward safety and security, the stronger the countervailing
negative influence on the engagement of the group.Our integrative model asserts
that the variance in the engagement of group members is, in part, a direct function
of the owner's behavior. We based this assertion directly on the tenets of social
cognitive theory [9]. Our findings confirm the logic of social and observational
learning inasmuch as owners provide salient behavioral cues for users. this makes
sense especially within the confines of a social system where members frequently
interact and have ample opportunities to influence each other through their on-task
and off-task activities. While we acknowledge that the concepts in figure 1, to
some extent, are bound together within a nonrecursive causal system, in the pres-
ent study, the temporal relation between the owner-based measures and the group
COrPOrAtE WIKIS 107108 ArAzy AND GEllAtlymeasure allowed us to assess the effect of
the owner on the wiki group. thus, while alternative causal specifications exit,
these explanations do not discount the logic or interpretation of our findings.
finally, our theoretical framework has implications for the role of e-leaders, in
particular, wiki owners. A natural extension of our work would be to explore the
motivational and behavioral influence of alternative referent individuals within
the wiki context, and to study the extent to which our theoretical framework holds
for these alternative referents.Implications for Knowledge ManagementIndustries are
seeing the breakup of large traditional organizations and the emergence of new,
networked organizational forms, in which work is conducted by temporary teams that
cross organizational lines [48]. It has been suggested that answers to questions
regarding the motivation for contributing to open source projects and Wikipedia can
reveal important lessons for organizations regarding ways for motivating knowledge
workers as well as for the process of managing various types of virtual
organizations, such as ad hoc project teams, virtual teams, and communities of
practice [8, 44, 48, 78]. Markus et al. argue that "traditional organizations
should consider ways to shift from the management of knowledge workers . . . to the
self-governance of knowledge work" [48, p. 15]. Our study suggests that when It is
employed to support open KM, special attention should be given to the affordances
of that technology.A wiki is conversational system that is intended for open KM.
Wikis' design philoso- phy (i.e., The Wiki Way [42]) stresses egalitarianism,
openness, and peer governance. It is possible that when wikis are implemented in an
environment that is hierarchical in nature, promotes competition, and is not
tolerant toward errors, employees would apply wikis in ways that disagree with
wikis' affordances (e.g., an overly careful editing mode that limits the number of
contributions). the tension between wikis' affordances and corporate settings has
led some to challenge the extent to which wikis could succeed in corporate settings
[4, 15, 25], suggesting that either wikis would need to be modified to more
effectively support organizational KM initiatives [6, 77] or that the organization
implementing the wikis would adopt more collaborative and open work practices [27,
33, 45].the implications of our findings for the management of wikis in corporate
envi- ronments would be essentially to align the organizational procedures
surrounding wiki deployment with the technology's affordances, namely, to
accentuate aspects of the technology and the social context that evoke promotion
focus and attempt to minimize those that foster prevention-focused regulation. this
is not easy, as induce- ments that reduce employees' risks can at the same time
curb the positive effects of promotion focus. One example is making wiki postings
anonymous, which reduces the risk of exposing incompetency, but at the same time
prevents promotion-oriented users from claiming credit for their wiki work. A
possible solution would be to allow (but not mandate) anonymous postings,
addressing the needs of both prevention- and promotion-oriented employees. Another
example of a managerial interventionthat would enhance promotion focus without
directly affecting prevention focus is incentivizing knowledge sharing by
recognizing top contributors or alternatively by providing group-based incentives.
firms that adopt wikis often experiment with dif- ferent deployment strategies, and
in some cases managers may decide to formally assign employees to the wiki editing
task [38]. Such a deployment strategy does not align well with wikis' affordances,
and we suspect that it could have undesirable implications for contributors'
motivation. Another important managerial implication is to actively monitor social
interaction within the wikis, with the understanding that group members will look
to salient others. Drucker's [18] view that leaders must direct people as if they
were unpaid volunteers is particularly relevant to open KM and to e-leaders' roles.
In particular, owners within a corporate wiki context can have a powerful effect on
shaping the values, attitudes, motives, and behaviors of others. Paying attention
to these processes is certainly a first step in understanding why some open KM
initiatives produce less than satisfactory outcomes.the pattern of relations in our
proposed model was hypothesized for the specific context of wikis used in
organizational settings, and the strengths of the paths we observed represent this
unique context. However, it is reasonable to expect that this pattern of relations
would apply to other types of open KMS. the causal paths in our model are directly
related to wikis affordances; for example, wikis' openness and transparency are
likely to have contributed to the links between regulation focus and wiki
engagement constructs. the extent that the pattern of relations applies to other
technologies depends on the affordances of these KMS, and we expect to see similar
patterns for technologies whose affordances resemble wiki affordances. the natural
candidates are other types of conversational KMS, such as discussion forums. While
there are some apparent similarities between these tools and wikis, we should note
important differences [5, 69]. for instance, in discussion forums, contributors'
postings are appended in an ongoing conversation style, whereas in wikis, a new
contribution overwrites the older version. Accordingly, the risk associated with
challenging the opinions of others is larger in wikis, and we expect prevention
focus to play a more salient role in the wiki context.Study limitationsAny
conclusions drawn from this study should be considered in light of several limita-
tions. first, although using a convenience sample for testing basic psychological
mecha- nisms is a common practice (e.g., [64]) and is often used in the information
systems field (e.g., [61]), it does limit the generalizability of the study's
findings. Nonetheless, there are no plausible reasons to suggest that owners in our
sample should differ from the larger population of wiki owners at IBM in respect to
the psychological and social processes studied, especially given the broad range of
wikis (in terms of group size and activity) and diversity of owners (in terms of
business unit and organizational function) in our sample. A second
concern is associated with the use of two items to sample regulatory focus and the
potential risk of measures' reliabilities. We note, however, that measures with
lower reliability make it harder, not easier, to find support for theCOrPOrAtE
WIKIS 109110 ArAzy AND GEllAtlytheoretical predictions. thus, in all likelihood,
our results reflect lower-bound estimates of the true relations between constructs.
the third limitation concerns our measure of group engagement. Based on IBM's data,
owners account for 15 percent to 20 percent of wiki group activity, on average.
there was no straightforward way for teasing out members'-only activity (nonowners)
from the total activity figures. However, in order to test whether this limitation
affected our calculations, we estimated members'-only activity by utilizing data
regarding wikis' total number of distinct editors and by making a series of
approximations (see details in the results section). this analysis demonstrated
that our findings were not sensitive to these approximations, suggesting that the
inclusion of the owner makes an insignificant difference to the overall group
activity. fourth, our model included relatively few explaining variables (compared
to what is desired), and it is possible that exogenous factors affected the model's
con- structs. In future research we plan to explore additional possible
explanations for the relationship between owners' regulatory focus and group
performance. In particular, we plan to investigate the relationships between wiki
affordances, job characteristics, motivation, and wiki engagement. Another
interesting line of investigation we would like to pursue is the relation between
organizational procedures surrounding wiki deployment and the motivational dynamics
underlying wiki engagement. finally, we acknowledge that there are some features
unique to the IBM environment, and thus we should be cautious in generalizing our
findings to other settings. Specifically, wikis were deployed at IBM in a hybrid
fashion, where technology administration was largely centralized, but social
management was a grassroot fashion: top management did not mandate that IBMers use
wikis for specific KM tasks; rather, management opted to make the technology
available and allowed employees to decide on wiki adoption themselves. It is not
clear how well our results would transfer to corporate settings with different wiki
deployment policies, and we propose that future research on wikis would consider
the impact of governance.Conclusionwe mAKe cOntrIbutIOns tO the study Of
InfOrmAtIOn systems as well as to the broader study of organizational behavior and
management. We have observed that most of the theoretical perspectives applied to
KMS implicitly assume that knowledge-sharing activities are inherently benign.
Naturally, the questions driving research in this area have tended to center on
identifying the conditions that elicit knowledge sharing within and between groups.
However, what seems missing in all of these discussions is the proverbial "elephant
in the room." In corporate settings, open KMS can create conditions that expose
deficiencies and differences with respect to a group member's criterion-relevant
abilities, knowledge, and experience, which in turn could damage status and
reputation. In short, most of the motivational explanations of an It-enabled
knowledge-sharing activity fail to recognize that participation in this knowledge-
sharing activity, in and of itself, can incur risk. failure to capture these
realities leaves us with conceptual models that tell us, at best, half the story.
By adapting regulatory focus theory [29] to this particular problem domain, we are
able to model these two?fundamental conflicting motivational mind-sets--one that is
oriented toward personal growth and achievement and one that is oriented toward
personal safety and security-- and test the implications of these motivational
states on behavior. thus, the value for the information systems literature, and KM
in particular, is to offer a more complete picture of the motivational dynamics
that underlie It-enabled knowledge-sharing activities within corporate
environments. Specifically, our contribution is in showing that open KMS (and
particularly, wiki-based systems) that are designed to foster col- laboration and
knowledge sharing might inadvertently evoke a motivational state that impedes or
inhibits engagement.We also make a contribution to the broader management
literature by explaining how the motivational states of focal individuals within an
open KM context are con- tagious, thereby affecting others. the literature on
knowledge leadership [23, 57] and e-leadership [7] document how individuals within
fluid, dynamic knowledge-based work settings take on important leadership roles;
however, what seems missing is an explanation of how the behavior of a salient
individual affects others within computer- mediated interactions. Our study extends
earlier work by Kark and Van Dijk [37], who explain how followers use cues provided
by leaders to influence their motivation. We demonstrate that inferences regarding
an e-leader's motivational states have direct effects on the knowledge-sharing
activity of followers, thus supporting the view that followers, within these
knowledge-sharing contexts, respond to the social and infor- mational cues of
leaders.Acknowledgments: the authors thank Soobaek Jang and raymond Patterson for
providing com- ments on earlier drafts of this paper. this research was funded in
part by the Social Sciences and Humanities research Council of Canada (SSHrC).nOtes
1. In line with prior studies of open source projects [28], Wikipedia [63], and
corporate wi- kis [76], we define engagement to include all interactions in the
wiki: reading content, posting new content, and editing others' postings.2. the
term "owner" has also been used in the context of corporate wikis [15, 25]. In many
respects, corporate wiki owners are similar to the owners of online communities:
they are cura- tors of knowledge [14], they often initiate the wiki and are active
contributors of content [25], and they have additional access privileges. thus,
corporate wiki owners play a leadership role in driving participation [54] and in
directing others to properly use the wikis [14]. A unique challenge that the owners
of corporate wikis have to face is in mobilizing semi-autonomous knowledge workers
that are attuned to directions coming from managers. Another difference is that in
corporate settings, technology management tasks are often shared between wiki
owners and the It unit.3. It may be helpful to explain how regulatory focus relates
to intrinsic-extrinsic motivation; a conceptualization of motivation that is
commonly used to explain knowledge sharing in organi- zational contexts [11, 45,
59]. Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation where individuals freely and
spontaneously engage in a task, out of pure interest or enjoyment and in the
absence of any external controlling contingencies. In stark contrast, extrinsic
motivation refers to motivation that is fundamentally compliance based, whereby
individuals engage in a task in order to achieve a desired outcome (i.e.,
attainment of external rewards or avoidance of punishments) [17]. Given the control
and reward contingencies that characterize corporate life, extrinsic motivation
tends to be predominant in work settings. Extrinsically motivated behavior can take
different formsCOrPOrAtE WIKIS 111??112 ArAzy AND GEllAtlydepending on the
perceived source of regulation, ranging from external regulation, where the source
of regulation is perceived to be external to the individual (i.e., contingent
rewards or punishments), to integrated regulation, where external contingencies are
internalized as per- sonal goals that are integrated with one's self-concept [17].
As the salience of external control increases in strength, regulatory focus will be
increasingly prevention oriented as individuals attempt to maximize gains while
protecting against losses. However, as the salience of external control gradually
gives way to internal control, the choices that people make and the goals they
strive for should be increasingly brought into coherence with other aspects of the
individuals' self-identity. thus, as the salience of internal control increases in
strength, the regulatory focus should be increasingly promotion focused. However,
because of the contingencies associated with promotion-focused regulation, the
concept of promotion-focused regulation is not synony- mous with intrinsic
motivation.4. IBM's central wiki page describes that "the wiki owner can control
access to the wiki and assign read access, write access, or manager access
privileges" (http://www-01.ibm.com/
software/au/lotus/products/connections/wikis.html).5. these four organization units
represent 76 percent of all IBM wiki users.6. In addition to the chi-square
statistic, we report an index of absolute and relative fit. the root mean square
error of approximation (rMSEA) [65] is an absolute fit index that assesses how well
an a priori model reproduces the sample data. rMSEA values below 0.08 indicate a
reasonable fit and those below 0.05 indicate a good fit. the comparative fit index
(CfI) [10] is a relative or incremental fit index that reflects the improvement in
fit by comparing the target model with a more restricted baseline model, such as
the null model. CfI values greater than 0.90 indicate a good fit.7. It is possible
that the measure of members' engagement also includes the owner's en- gagement.
Since wiki logs did not contain data regarding individual contributors, there is no
straightforward way for teasing out members'-only activity from the total activity
figures. In order to validate that this does not affect our results, we worked to
estimate
members'-only ac- tivity by utilizing data regarding the wikis' total number of
distinct editors. We made a series of approximations, and for each we adjusted the
data set and re-ran the model. first, we assumed that the owner is actively editing
the wiki at least once every month; thus, in the cases where the total number of
editors for that month was 1, we associated all edit activity with the owner and
assumed that other group members' activity was 0. Second, based on the assumption
that the owner is actively editing the wiki at least once a month, we calculated
the number of member nonowner editors to be the total number of editors minus 1
(i.e., the owner). We then calculated the average wiki edit activity as the total
activity divided by the revised number of members. third, by relying on (1) an
internal IBM report showing that, on average, owners are active 1.5 times as
nonowners and (2) the data regarding the number of distinct editors, we were able
to approximate how much of the total activity is associated with the owner and how
much of it is members' activity (e.g., looking at the averages across all the wiki
groups, the average group activity is 12 monthly edits and the number of active
contributors is 5; the owner's average activity is 3.3 edits per month and the
average for the four nonowner member is 2.2 edits per month). We then calculated
the average number of edits as (approximated) members'-only activity divided by the
number of members (excluding owner). for each of these three approximations, we
separately re-ran our data analysis, and the results for the three modified data
sets were es- sentially the same as our original data set (i.e., all the paths that
are significant using the original data set are still significant). this
demonstrates that our results are not sensitive to the "purity" of members'
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